Monday, August 30, 2010

The Grail Legend, Signs of Life

"...the man is distinguished by the feminine elements." The Grail Legend by Emma Jung

Continuing in the classic story of the Holy Grail, a myth made noble by its telling and re-telling, the author Emma Jung, wife of famed psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, writes that the myth is known since the middle ages. Over time it develops and refines itself through the numerous spiritual awakenings experienced by its telling. "Thus he [like Percival]  is brought into close connection with the Christ." So then the "Grail hero," Percival, represents  the higher conscious awareness of a person, in the religious, spiritual sense of the word.

The story events can be traced and understood as "symbolic representations of the archetypal development .... on the other hand, they possess a dimension in depth which points specifically to the problem of the Christian era." The "problem" as described relates to the nature of salvation contained within the Christ story. Percival spurred on by his mother, goes forth from the family home to find his way in the world and most importantly to discover the location of the Grail Castle. For this, he searches long, high and low.

"It would seem,' writes Jung, 'that the mother's story has produced an after-effect in the unconscious of the youth and has there aroused the images of the paternal figures which he then meets in the Grail Castle." This as example, is an experience many of us are familiar with: during our waking day we experience something which while fleeting, to which no importance may be attached, nonetheless it activates the unconscious mind. Often these experiences give rise to dreams which appropriately consider the subject in depth, but most often in symbols. Within the Grail Legend there are a host of symbols to be considered, both religious and spiritual, masculine and feminine.

One of the many things the myth demonstrates is that during Percival's long wandering, while a man naturally has the "tendency to identify with his masculinity, and it is well known, the acceptance of his feminine side is a severe problem for him. He is therefore inclined to act unjustly towards the feminine. It may seem strange... to place a high value on the wronging of the feminine element... it must not be overlooked, however, that a woman is only loved externally; the manly ideal is a one-sided and absolute masculinity." There is then the "motif of the chessboard" upon which Gauvain [another character in the myth] and his beloved defend themselves.

"For in the game of chess which requires concentration and close attention, the two sides confront one another,  "a well nigh all powerful queen stands beside a somewhat helpless yet nevertheless vitally important king... the knight must still submit himself" for the further development of the game. As in the game, Percival, like a 'shadow figure' tries to investigate these and other profound problems seeking solutions and the ultimate holy of holy, the Grail itself. To whom the Grail is possessed is riches without parallel. In this game, that one is the victor.

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